At the end of a construction project, most home builders are stuck with unused building materials and products, some of which can't be carried over to the next job. Selling excess materials to those who need them is undoubtedly a better solution than storing them indefinitely or dumping them and contributing to the growing waste stream.
But there are few outlets available for those in the building trades to make some of their money back on unwanted supplies, particularly in a targeted, well-organized, and easy-to-navigate format. Even the ever-popular CraigsList.com offers only three categories—materials, appliances, and tools—for listing a vast range of building supplies.
That's why former contractors' insurance broker Matt Knox and his brother, Johnnie Munger, co-founded and developed DiggersList.com, a free construction classifieds site that helps builders and contractors buy, trade, or sell extra building materials, appliances, vehicles, and tools. The site officially launched in October 2009.
"We learned that there's 160 million tons of construction waste generated every year, largely because people don't have a good resource to help them do something with it," says Knox. "We thought we could help economically and environmentally."
DiggersList is a locally oriented site, similar to CraigsList, but is 100 percent oriented to construction trades. Users choose the city nearest their location to search or post listings. Currently it provides web portals for 16 cities around the United States, but Knox says it will expand to a total of 224 within the next year. Once DiggersList offers wider coverage of the U.S., it will branch out to include other countries.
Not only does the site allow buying, selling, and trading of construction materials and equipment, it also allows contractors to post company profiles, along with galleries of their work, under a wide range of service-provider categories, such as general contracting, green building, architects/engineers, and new homes.
For Web-shy builders, Knox and Munger have kept the account creation process simple and fast. "Whether you're putting up materials or posting project photos, it's easy to create an account and post information. You can do it in five minutes," Knox says.
In addition to the professional community, DiggersList also invites property-owners to visit, search, and post. Those in search of local contractors can search company profiles for the professional that best suits their needs. Owners also can post listings for work they want performed. Interested contractors can bid on jobs for free and at their convenience. Knox also suggests that contractors can post timely listings about seasonal services they provide, such as home winterization.
So far DiggersList has 20,000 users around the country, a following that continues to grow as word gets out, according to Knox. Eventually, the developers plan to add a Wiki-style community-based reference feature to allow customers to post accounts of their experiences working with contractors on DiggersList.